Ajinkya Rahane April 27, 2013

'I will always preserve Tendulkar's autograph'

Ajinkya Rahane chats about his national call-up, his first autograph, and a painful moment in the nets

First national call-up
It was the summer of 2011, during India's tour of England for the ODIs and T20s when I replaced Virender Sehwag. I was at home when I got a call from the BCCI office. I could not believe it initially. Such moments are surreal: I could not figure out what I should do. As a child you dream of playing for your country, but when it really happens you do not know how to react.

First bat
It was an SS brand one and cost Rs 750 (around $14), a steep price for my dad in those days. I was in second grade and we had gone to this sport shop in Dombivli, a northern suburb of Mumbai. As soon as I held the bat, I enjoyed the feel and I wanted it. I took really good care of that bat, keeping it in a pile of socks and in its cover. I still have it.

First autograph
I was the ball boy during the Mumbai Test of the home series against South Africa in 2000. I was playing Under-14 cricket. I was standing in front of the old dressing room at the Wankhede Stadium and I approached Sachin Tendulkar and asked: "Sir, autograph please." And he obliged readily. I will always preserve that autograph book.

First time you were hit in the box
I was part of an Under-15 squad training at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. Venkatesh Prasad was our coach and he was bowling to me off a short run-up. He cut the ball off the pitch and hit me straight in the box. It hurt so much that I had no idea what had happened.

First time you broke a bat
In the 2012 IPL season, in a close match against Delhi Daredevils, I was facing Morne Morkel. The handle came off from the body. I really liked that bat and made sure I got it repaired the same evening. For a batsman, the bat is your main weapon and you need to respect it. The more you respect it, the better it helps with your cricket. I continue using that bat.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo